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[PLOG] Mac G5 --> PC Conversion

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#2
So, I've started my summer project. Putting PC components inside of an Apple G5 case. This thread will be dedicated to documenting my progress as I move through this project.

Background
So I saw this Mac G5 in my school's 'Mac Lab' that wasn't connected to anything. I asked why that was and I found out that it was apparently broken. The idea to put a PC inside of the Mac case came from a joke between me and the head computer admin at my school. He said that it would be really funny to install XP on one of the Macs so when someone turned it on, it'd be Windows instead of Mac OS. Well, in order to install XP, you'd need a regular (x86) system in there... So wouldn't it be cool to put a regular computer in the Mac case? After a bit of searching, I found many other cases (pun lol :cool:) of this mod. So right before school let out, I asked if I could have it because it wasn't being used. Surprisingly, they gave it to me. Coincidentally, I'm going to be taking a self-study class on video editing next year. I wasn't really looking forward to video editing on a dual 2GHz G5 in the 'Mac Lab'. So then it hit me that I could use the computer from this mod at school for the class. So the primary usage of this computer would be video editing. And with that, I started researching and planning out this mod.

The Plan
So I had a few goals in this mod.
  • PC in a G5 case
  • Needs to be a 'Sleeper'
  • CHEAP
  • Quad Core
  • Watercooled
The first requirement is fairly obvious. The second requirement means that I don't want to touch the exterior of the case. So no external mods beyond what's necessary. As cool as a window would be, no external mods for this one. I want this computer to be mistaken for a regular Mac. And I don't really have a budget for this mod, but I'm paying for most of it, so the cheaper, the better. This computer definately needed a quad core CPU because I'm going to be editing video on it and video encoding is extremely parallel. I want to watercool this PC for two reasons. First, I had a pump and 240mm rad left over from when I watercooled my main computer and I wanted to reuse these parts. Second, for looks. It's gonna be a PC... in a Mac case... AND it's gonna be watercooled... yeah, it's gonna look good. :cool: So with that in mind, I came up with these parts. (and I already have them)
PSU400W OCZ Fata1ty
MoboGigabyte Ga-P35-DS3L
CPUXeon 3210 (B3 Q6600 with 8x multi)
RAM2GB (2x1GB)Crucial Ballistix DDR2-800
GraphicsAsus 9600GS0
Storage74GB Raptor
1TB Hitachi
OpticalStock Apple Superdrive
Watercooling D-Tek Fuzion
Danger Den CPX-Pro
Black Ice GT Stealth 240
Koolance 80mm Inline Res


So that's what's going inside. Now, how will everything go inside.



That's how I'm planning to fit everything in. I think the pic speaks for it self.

The Process
As I see it, this project can be broken into 4 major steps.
  1. Disassemble the Mac
  2. Get an ATX mobo mounted in the case
  3. Mount PSU, HDDs, and WC gear
  4. Reassemble
The hardest part from what I've seen (by far) will be step 2. That's where I have to do some major cutting and fitting. Outside of that I think it's fairly straightforward. But I'm sure they're be snags and things I forgot along the way.

So that's it for now. The disassembly post will be up soon. FEEDBACK/ADVICE/SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOMED!! I am probably in over my head on this mod. I welcome all input because it can only help the project. (unhelpful input is simply ignored. problem solved) There's lots more to come folks, stay tuned. :D
 
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#3
Ok, so I got most of the Mac G5 disassembled. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. And captions refer to the pic above the caption. In other words, the caption is below the picture. (because that ALWAYS confuses me :laugh:)


The case from many different angles. Reallllly wide pic btw



What the case looks like on the inside. It has a plastic cover that serves as an airflow guide. That's seen in the second pic. The third pic is the case without the airflow guide. Note that my school had already taken most user serviceable parts. (RAM, HDD, Airport Extreme)



After about fifteen minutes, I've gotten the easy stuff out. Everything was smooth sailing....



....Until I got to this piece. This cover covers the CPU heatsinks. I could not figure out how to get it out. I mean I literally spent a few hours on two different days trying to get that damn piece out! And there is ZERO info about this anywhere on the internet. Nobody had ever taken apart the same Mac as I did and recorded it. Finally, I found my answer in a comment of a small blog. It pointed me to this plastic piece that secured the G5 cover to the case. (see second pic) The 3rd pic shows where the plastic piece is relative to the rest of the case. The fourth pic shows the cover finally off. Basically, the plastic piece needs to go to the other side of the metal. Instead of squeezing the plastic through the hole, I decided to just dremel the top of the plastic piece off. Then, the G5 cover easily slides to the right and comes off. AFAIK, this is only documented with pics right here.



Now you can see the large CPU heatsinks

Next was another tricky part. In order to remove the heatsinks, you need to loosen (not remove) 4 hex screws for each CPU (8 total) Three are at the corners of the heatsink and the fourth is the the hole that the heatsinks make. I used a 3/32 hex wrench, but that was a bit too small. (but it worked) A 7/64 hex wrench was too big. ($5 down the drain) I suspect the hex screw may be metric... Can't confirm. Getting the first 3 screws out was challenging. Getting the fourth screw out (the one between the heatsinks, was a BITCH!! :banghead: The allen wrench needs to be at around 6in long to get down there. I couldn't find one. (I dunno if they even make them) Then I tried using needle nose pliers and holding a regular 3/32 allen wrench down there. Umm. No. Then I finally found a really tiny screwdriver that was really long and had a fairly narrow handle. I had to bend the two heatsinks apart as far as they would go. (which isn't much, but every mm helps.) The screw driver didn't fit perfectly in the hex screw, but if I pressed down hard enough, I was able to get enough grip to loosen the screw. After it's loose, and the other 3 are out, you can remove one of the CPUs. Note that you only have to remove 1 hex screw in the middle of the heatsinks. After that, one CPU can come out, giving you access to the other 4th screw. And, I had to do some bending to get to the other screws too. I bent the metal piece that separates the CPUs from expansion cards towards the top of the case and I also bent the secondary heatsink on the CPU.


[

Apple packages CPUs and heatsinks together as one unit. So you pull the heatsink, the VRM and the CPU out at the same time. Kinda cool way of doing it. Those are pics of the bottom of the CPU/heatsink package. The secondary heatsink on the back of the main heatsink is dedicated to the VRM. Like a HR-09++++.



A few screws later, the motherboard was able to come out.



Then the PSU followed. The PSU was at the bottom of the case and is very interesting. First, it's pretty big. Secondly, it looks ATX, but I don't think it is. I have the wiring diagram somewhere. But anyway, it has a 25v rail. A rather large one too @ 5.2A (130W) My theroy is that this goes to Apple's modified AGP port. Basically it's an AGP port with another connector in the front. Apple graphics cards have/had a special DVI connector. I think the 25v line is passed to then through the graphics card via a modified DVI connection to the monitor. So I think that Apple displays that have that special modified DVI port can be powered from the computer. So in the end, it's one less cable. I think nearly all LCDs fit in the 130W envelope. Or at least in 2004 they may have. But that's just my theroy that I've put together from some readings. Pics of the special AGP and DVI port to come.



You don't see many shots of the back of the motherboard. Anyway, there's a large heatsink array on it that cools what I think is the Northbridge. Some other components also have heatsinks. And why have heatsinks on the back of a mobo? Apple actually has a good reason.... (I'm looking at you Gigabyte) At the top of the case, on the left side of the HDD cage, there is a blower-style fan. That fan actually takes air and blows it down the back of the motherbard. Very interesting, eh? Apple products are so well designed imo.




A shot of (just about) all of the Mac G5 internals.

So right now, all I have left to disassemble is the two fans and the hard drive cage at the top of the case. Hopefully I'll get to that tomorrow. Still more ahead. I'm just gettin started. :D

I have high res pics of everything if you want them. If you want a better pic or a pic of something I didn't show, let me know. I'll be glad to take more pics.
 
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#4
Wow. never thought you had to remove so much! Pretty balls mod you want to do!
/Subscribed
:toast:
 
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#5
I so wish I could get ahold of a junked G5 case to mod like this :( All our G5's are still quite happily chugging along though.

Should be able to re-use the HDD sliders, HDD, and CDROM. That way you can keep the sleek ejecting tray. Drivers are available for Apple keyboards with Eject buttons. Or you could manually eject from windows which is easy enough.
 
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#6
I thought about reusing the hdd cage, but I didn't for two reasons. First I'm missing the screws that the HDD needs in order to 'slide' in. They were on the original HDD, which I don't have. Second, I need somewhere to put the PSU where it'll get some airflow. I don't think it'll fit below the mobo, so the top is the only other feasable place. If I can find some of those screws for the hdd, I'll definately reuse the cage and mount it somewhere else.

Oh, I have something planned for the eject button. I was gonna make a thread about this eventually. I was thinking about having an infered LED and reciever (wrong word) on the front of the case. So basically, when the 'reciever' detects IR light it will act as the usual button. So when I put my hand in front of the case, it should open. But I dunno if that's possible or not. (I may have seen it somewhere, can't remember) But if that doesn't work out, doing it manually isn't that bad. I don't really use a CD drive that often anyway. I'm pretty sure I can reuse the stock keyboard. Good to know that there are drivers for it. However, the stock G5 mouse doesn't have a right click, which drives me insane. (HOW DO YOU CHECK THE PROPERTIES??) I'm thinking about a wired Mighty Mouse.

And I am pretty lucky to get such a case for free.

Thanks for the comments! :)
 

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#7
NO!!!!! WHY WHY WHY?!?! Such a beautiful piece of hardware destroyed :(

ship me the stuff so i can put it to good use :(
 
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#8
I'm pretty sure I can reuse the stock keyboard. Good to know that there are drivers for it. However, the stock G5 mouse doesn't have a right click, which drives me insane. (HOW DO YOU CHECK THE PROPERTIES??) I'm thinking about a wired Mighty Mouse.

And I am pretty lucky to get such a case for free.

Thanks for the comments! :)
Stock apple keyboard driver can be extracted from the Boot Camp driver install exe.. It should expand them to the harddrive when you try to run it.

I think you got one of the unlucky G5 mice that wasn't a mighty mouse.. :p The Mighty mouse is outstanding. I ADORE my Bluetooth one.

If you have the clear body/plain white USB bus mouse, then it doesn't have a right. Apple users would ctrl+click for right click. Worked great until windows users decided to invade :roll:
 
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#9
subscribed... it looks like something lian li would make.

Youu could easily get a micro ATX in there with no mods... or just a cutout for the MB backplate - that way it would look stock :D
 

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#10
Cool, can't wait to see how it comes out

umm, and why is there PVC piping running down your wall?
 
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#11
apple cases do seem very well put together and solid, they also look kewl :). Those are the biggest heatsinks i've ever seen for a CPU, bigger than the megahalems i thk. keep us updated :toast:
 

distemper

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#12
From somebody who's modded a G5 case

A) I think a PSU will fit into the area you want, but you'll need to remove that metal separator plate. You'll need a T-8 Torx driver for that I think. Its a pain to remove.

B) You might want to consider a specially selected PSU. Your OCZ Fata1ty PSU will need to suck in air through a hole you will cut in the separator plate. So it will be sucking in air off a hot hard drive. You won't want the raptor in that area. Its easier if you pick a PSU with inline fan(s). For example the Antec Basiq BP430 430W doesn't require you to cut holes in that steel separator at all.

It was my spring project. This in a North Carolina summer takes a dedication that I just don't have.
 
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#13
NO!!!!! WHY WHY WHY?!?! Such a beautiful piece of hardware destroyed :(

ship me the stuff so i can put it to good use :(
Mac fans. :shadedshu
(JOKE)

Stock apple keyboard driver can be extracted from the Boot Camp driver install exe.. It should expand them to the harddrive when you try to run it.

I think you got one of the unlucky G5 mice that wasn't a mighty mouse.. :p The Mighty mouse is outstanding. I ADORE my Bluetooth one.

If you have the clear body/plain white USB bus mouse, then it doesn't have a right. Apple users would ctrl+click for right click. Worked great until windows users decided to invade :roll:
This is the kind of mouse that was used with the case. It's definitely not a Mighty Mouse. This is the keyboard that it came with. I'll likely reuse this. No need to replace something that works. (Even though the aluminum ones look soooo coool)

subscribed... it looks like something lian li would make.

Youu could easily get a micro ATX in there with no mods... or just a cutout for the MB backplate - that way it would look stock :D
I considered a mATX board, but I ruled it out for some reason. (can't remember >.< ) It may have been price. I need a board that can hold a 400MHz+ quad for cheap. I got the Gigabyte P35 board for ~$45. I don't know of any mATX boards that can do that at that price.

umm, and why is there PVC piping running down your wall?
That's another project of mine. It was originally designed to be a pneumatic cannon. Pics when I get home.
From somebody who's modded a G5 case

A) I think a PSU will fit into the area you want, but you'll need to remove that metal separator plate. You'll need a T-8 Torx driver for that I think. Its a pain to remove.

B) You might want to consider a specially selected PSU. Your OCZ Fata1ty PSU will need to suck in air through a hole you will cut in the separator plate. So it will be sucking in air off a hot hard drive. You won't want the raptor in that area. Its easier if you pick a PSU with inline fan(s). For example the Antec Basiq BP430 430W doesn't require you to cut holes in that steel separator at all.

It was my spring project. This in a North Carolina summer takes a dedication that I just don't have.
Very nice on your mod! I really like how you fit an ATX mobo in there with such little cutting of the rear panel. That's exactly like what I was looking for. May I ask how you mounted the motherboard? That's the part that I'm the most unsure about.

I picked that PSU purely on price. I got it for $35 shipped, new. At that price most units are generic, and I didn't want a generic PSU powering this rig. This PSU is actually half decent, and it was cheap, which was my goal. I thought about getting a PSU with fans in the front, but I couldn't turn down that deal on that OCZ. Because of this, I figured that I could just mod it to work. I had considered cutting off the unnecessary cables anyway. If I do that, then I might as well take it out of its housing and put a fan in front of it. Because it's in a tunnel, it should get enough airflow. Plus I'm only going to be running it around 50% tops.

One last question. Do the fans and hdd cage come out without removing the top separator?
 
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#14
/tag

looks impressive...
 
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#15
You could sell those parts, even if you don't know if they work, with damage and all for a fair amount on Ebay. If you get them sold, sell that motherboard, and get an mATX 'board that suits your needs for overclocking, there are plenty more mATX boards now that will satisfy you than there were a few years ago.
Good stuff though, I've seen people modding PowerMac G4 cases for PCs, I think the G5s are bigger, stronger, and better made, so you got a really good project case there.
 

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#16
this was fun, just to watch a mac being taken apart :D
 
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#17
I remember my G4. What an amasing case to work on. Just one latch on the side cover and the side panel opened up with the mb on it.

This now reminds me I have a non working apple 17" monitor. I wonder if I could build a pc in it, complete with working lcd screen?
 

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#18
I remember my G4. What an amasing case to work on. Just one latch on the side cover and the side panel opened up with the mb on it.

This now reminds me I have a non working apple 17" monitor. I wonder if I could build a pc in it, complete with working lcd screen?
just remember the #1 rule of such things.

"Pics or it didnt happen!"
 
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#19
Ya ya.

I'm not sure when I will get time to install my new Xig 1283. So something of that magnitude requires plenty of off time preceded by plenty of work to pay for everything.

But the seed has been planted.
 

distemper

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#20
May I ask how you mounted the motherboard?
The big giant open area of the case that sits above the stock G5 PSU to the upper drive separator plate isn't of sufficient height to accommodate an ATX motherboard. Essentially, my ATX motherboard sits right above the area of the PSU (by 3mm or so), but extends into that upper drive zone. I had to remove that separator plate and use a jigsaw to cut out a slot for the motherboard. There's a picture of the amount of intrusion into the zone.

I reused the existing G5 motherboard mounts. I broke all but one off (in the upper area where I placed a 120mm fan). They come off easily - pliers push to one side. No damage to the case. They come in 2 differing heights - I used the shorter ones, and ground down one of the taller ones to get the 9 ATX standoffs I needed.

In the 4 corners, I screwed the standoffs onto the motherboard and placed the motherboard loseley inside the case. I inserted a spare PCI card to line up with the extenior PCI slot cage and marked on the G5 case where the 5 motherboard mounts would go. Swapped the standoffs to get the other 4 corners.

I didn't even scuff the aluminum, just alcohol wiped clean & remarked the area again just to be sure. I mixed up a batch of JB Quick (the 5minute version of JB Weld) and epoxied on 5 standoffs into the case. Quickly, I placed the motherboard back inside the case, placed the PCI card in to align the MB to the rear openings and used a mechanical pencil to nudge the now-quickly curing standoffs into position under the MB screw holes. Repeated the process for the remaining 4 standoffs a few hours later. I didn't put weight on the standoffs for a few days while it fully cured.
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One last question. Do the fans and hdd cage come out without removing the top separator?
No, you need to pull out that drive plate to extract the blower/fan assembly & the drive cage. Unless you want to break them in pieces... in which case the fan assembly looks like its thick plastic that will cause some anger management issues. For removal, there are guides here (I think).
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The funny thing is that you've got 3 fans in your concept drawing.

I've got 9. And I'm pissed that I can't wedge another 60mm fan in the upper area because of a nest of cables!
 

freaksavior

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#21

DrPepper

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#22
Wow I was hoping that someone would do this so thank you very much :D
 
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#23
The big giant open area of the case that sits above the stock G5 PSU to the upper drive separator plate isn't of sufficient height to accommodate an ATX motherboard. Essentially, my ATX motherboard sits right above the area of the PSU (by 3mm or so), but extends into that upper drive zone. I had to remove that separator plate and use a jigsaw to cut out a slot for the motherboard. There's a picture of the amount of intrusion into the zone.

I reused the existing G5 motherboard mounts. I broke all but one off (in the upper area where I placed a 120mm fan). They come off easily - pliers push to one side. No damage to the case. They come in 2 differing heights - I used the shorter ones, and ground down one of the taller ones to get the 9 ATX standoffs I needed.

In the 4 corners, I screwed the standoffs onto the motherboard and placed the motherboard loseley inside the case. I inserted a spare PCI card to line up with the extenior PCI slot cage and marked on the G5 case where the 5 motherboard mounts would go. Swapped the standoffs to get the other 4 corners.

I didn't even scuff the aluminum, just alcohol wiped clean & remarked the area again just to be sure. I mixed up a batch of JB Quick (the 5minute version of JB Weld) and epoxied on 5 standoffs into the case. Quickly, I placed the motherboard back inside the case, placed the PCI card in to align the MB to the rear openings and used a mechanical pencil to nudge the now-quickly curing standoffs into position under the MB screw holes. Repeated the process for the remaining 4 standoffs a few hours later. I didn't put weight on the standoffs for a few days while it fully cured.
-------------


No, you need to pull out that drive plate to extract the blower/fan assembly & the drive cage. Unless you want to break them in pieces... in which case the fan assembly looks like its thick plastic that will cause some anger management issues. For removal, there are guides here (I think).
-------
The funny thing is that you've got 3 fans in your concept drawing.

I've got 9. And I'm pissed that I can't wedge another 60mm fan in the upper area because of a nest of cables!
Here's my delimma. I really didn't want to cut into that plate. I can't really come up with a better reason than 'I just don't want to because of the look'. But in order to preserve the back panel, the mobo NEEDS to line up with the stock expansion slots. If I don't cut the plate, I was thinking about getting a mobo tray and hacking out a good sized hole in the back. So it's either don't cut the separator thing and cut up the back panel or cut the seperator plate and have the back near stock condition.

It seems like a micro ATX mobo would solve this dilemma. But I did some (a little) searching and all I found was a P5K-VM for $55 shipped. I've seen some reports say they've run a Q6600 at 400*9 at 1.4xxxV, so that's good enough for me. But it's kinda expensive. I'd much rather keep what I have, but if it'll make things easier, I'd get another board.

And I've just realized that I've fogotten the rear fans in my diagram. (I'll update it in a sec) If I decide to cut the top seperator plate for the mobo, then I'm going to try to reuse the stock dual 80mm fans. If I end up significantly cutting the back of the case, then I'll use a single 120mm fan.

oh dont even get me started
(JOKE)
I can't tell if you're annoyed or not. I'm all in good fun here. :) I used to be really anti-Apple, but recently, I've been trying to be really objective and I actually kinda like Apple's stuff. Very nicely designed. Unfortunately, it's also very expensive. But I guess really nice things cost alot. I've even considered installing OSX on this computer. We'll see about that later.

You could sell those parts, even if you don't know if they work, with damage and all for a fair amount on Ebay. If you get them sold, sell that motherboard, and get an mATX 'board that suits your needs for overclocking, there are plenty more mATX boards now that will satisfy you than there were a few years ago.
Good stuff though, I've seen people modding PowerMac G4 cases for PCs, I think the G5s are bigger, stronger, and better made, so you got a really good project case there.
I've offered to give the parts back to the school to serve as replacement parts for the other G5's. I did this out of courtesy, after all, they gave me the case for free. I'm hoping they don't wont them, and then I can ebay them for some $$$.

Wow I was hoping that someone would do this so thank you very much :D
Np.


And just a side note, I'm really sick of buying tools that I'm only going to use once. I'm even more sick of buying tools that I'm only going to use once AND THEY TURN OUT TO BE THE WRONG SIZE!! :banghead: Anyone want some Torx screwdrivers? I've got a T30, T25, T20, T15, and T10. Used only long enough to figure out that they all don't work. How the hell am I supposed to recognize a T8 screw? (I got them before distemper posted the correct size)
 
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#24
...
And just a side note, I'm really sick of buying tools that I'm only going to use once. I'm even more sick of buying tools that I'm only going to use once AND THEY TURN OUT TO BE THE WRONG SIZE!! :banghead: Anyone one some Torx screwdrivers? I've got a T30, T25, T20, T15, and T10. Used only long enough to figure out that they all don't work. How the hell am I supposed to recognize a T8 screw? (I got them before distemper posted the correct size)
why don't you rent tools? its so much cheaper. And they dont end up taking up all of your space.

edit nvm home depo doesnt rent normal tools... Ace does though... $6 a day for a drill.
 
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#25

The first pic is of Apple's AGP port with a special connector in front of it. You can also see the connector on the Apple graphics card, a FX5200 Ultra btw. Finally you can see one a regular DVI port next to Apple's modified port. The 25v @ 4A is what makes me think that the LCD is being powered by the computer.

Someone pointed out the PVC pipe in the corner of my pictures. It's an attempt at mimiking a T-Shirt cannon. But in the end, it's just a pneumatic cannon. I never got around to testing it at higher pressures. Video Linky.
 
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